Let fans of Welcome to Night Vale rejoice: creepy podcasts are catching on enough to demand television adaptations. Lore premiered on Amazon Prime last week as a six-episode television series based on Aaron Mahnke’s podcast of the same name. Both the podcast and the new TV series explore urban myths and folklore and their effects on our culture. Each episode explores a theme, such as the origin of our fear of dolls or alternative Old World explanations for diseases such as tuberculosis (demonic possession, naturally). It explains the phenomena as whole, but the bulk of each episode is focused on telling a story featuring people affected by such phenomena. All of the stories are completely true.
Be warned, this series is not for the faint of heart. While the podcast’s audible descriptions could get a bit grisly, seeing them brought to life both in live-action and animation causes the show to at times be a bit sickening. The second episode follows Walter Freeman, the inventor of the lobotomy. While it presents him in a fairly sympathetic fashion (as he genuinely thought he was helping the mentally ill), there are some scenes that the squeamish should stay far away from. However, if you can stomach the occasional gross scene, you may enjoy this series, as it’s really quite fascinating and its creep-factor may make for a good Halloween binge. Just don’t watch it in the library or dining halls or anyone where else you’ll get strange looks from people who glance at your screen.
This season links its episodes with an exploration of the effects of false beliefs and pseudo-science. The third episode of the show focuses on creatures in Irish folklore known as changelings. The story went that when a family member started showing signs of sudden personality changes, it was because fairies had kidnapped the real person and had replaced them with a shape-shifting fairy, otherwise known as a changeling. This happened most often to women and children. The family members would then have nine days to confirm or deny their family member’s identity. If they deemed it to in fact be a changeling, they would kill the “fairy”. This pagan belief persisted even as Catholic theology and modern medicine attempted to rid it from the island, and frequently met with tragedy. These folk tale may have persisted as a way to explain a variety of natural states such as puberty, depression, and mental illness. It is also hypothesized that it was used a means to justify killing family members in times of famine. Or, as in the case of the episode, as a way to keep women in their place as the husband’s property in a rapidly industrializing and modernized world. The show constantly tells unique, niche stories from parts of our past that we’d like to forget but are important to remember. It expands and enriches our conception of history by taking us off the wide-open road and into the back alley to see something hidden.
Lore is a creepy, informative show that keeps you glued to the screen even as you try to look away. While you should expect to spam the fast-forward button, do not let its gross-out moments deter you from what is an interesting watch.
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